February 29, 2012

Balsamic Vinegar Asparagus

So I found a recipe for asparagus and modified it a little to be slightly healthier.
We love asparagus, but really love it this new way we found of cooking it.
Preheat the oven to 400 degrees. 
Line a baking sheet with tinfoil to make for super easy cleanup.
Lay the washed asparagus flat on the baking sheet.
Sprinkle the asparagus with extra virgin olive oil, salt and pepper, and balsamic vinegar.
Bake for about 10 minutes until the oil and vinegar is bubbling and the asparagus looks tender.
Serve hot and enjoy!
We served our balsamic asparagus with BBQ salmon and rice

February 28, 2012

Easy Cupcake Decorating with Kids

So, the other night we hosted a play date.  We had pizza and then decorated cupcakes that I had made earlier that day.  To make sure this did not end up a sugar overloaded mess, I modified. 
I put a cupcake on a small saucer for each child for easy clean up.  I also put white icing in small cocktail sauce containers. (these were a wedding gift that came with a shrimp platter for parties).  This way I was able to divide out the amount of icing each child was going to use.  They each got to ice their cupcake in their own fashion.  I always have sprinkles on hand, so I brought them to the table for their decorating delight.  They had a blast, however, I was not able to get a picture of the finished products since they were devoured so quickly. 

February 25, 2012

You Know You Have Kids When...

You know you have kids when:

~You open up your pantry and find vehicles next to the snacks:

~Your refrigerator looks like this:
(notice the 'no fatboy' written out in the magnetic
alphabet that my husband placed on the fridge to
remind him not to snack:)

~You reach for a pan when beginning to cook dinner and you find a 'snake' in the cabinet:

~A shelf in your stockpile looks similar to this:

~You have 2 toilets AND a stool in every bathroom in the house

~You clean your back patio door about 2X's a week and it still looks like this:

 A grandmother once told me that her back door had handprints all over it from when her grandchildren came to visit.  Her daughter asked, in dismay, why they were still there on the door looking filthy.  The gradmother responded that it was a beautiful, constant reminder of her precious grandchildren and all the memories the visit had left behind. 
Kids bring such joy:  even if it is the form of a messy window, or a bathroom not looking as soafisticated as we desire. 
It's the little things that should remind us of what a blessing they truly are and the love they enable our hearts to feel is when we" know we have kids"....

February 22, 2012

Easy Salmon

I am not a fish food lover at all!  However, after being stationed in northern Japan for 4 years I love salmon.  (it's the only fish I'll eat). 
In fact my husband caught a live salmon, with his own two hands out of the water, at a festival one time and we took it home to grill. It was the best thing I have ever eaten!  That's my man!

When I came across individual salmon fillets, frozen (yes, I said frozen) I was extremely skeptical.  I bought 2 fillets because the price was unbelievable.  I defrosted the salmon and pan fried them up for dinner that night.  

Here is how I pan fried our salmon:
Salmon does not have to be drowned in seasoning to taste good.
~Coat a frying pan with some extra virgin olive oil.
~Throw about a tablespoon of butter in the pan as well.  All on medium/low heat.
~Add your salmon to the pan
(although I'm sure you can, I did not cover the pan as the salmon cooked)
~Add some salt, pepper, and dill,to taste, over the top of the salmon
~I also squeezed lemon juice over the entire thing at this point.
~When you start to see the salmon cook to about half way through, flip it gently.
~Add some more lemon juice all over the top.

When the salmon was finished (it all takes about less than 10 minutes) I placed it over some white rice I had cooked and sprinkled with a little teriyaki sauce. 
Such a light and a refreshingly delicious dinner.  We served it up with asparagus-YUM!
(The deal on the salmon was so great and the fillets so yummy that I went back and bought 8 more!)

February 19, 2012

The Best Kind of Sandbox

Spring is just around the corner and I thought I would share with you what has been the best kind of sandbox for my kiddos AND did not cost alot of money. 
We baught a plastic kiddie pool for about $8 at Walmart, 3 years ago for our kids, and turned it into a sandbox.  We still use it and it has held up well to all kinds of weather. 
We filled it with about 4 bags of sand that were pretty cheap from Lowes.  It has been so much fun for my kids and we even use it in the winter on the days that it is not so cold outside. 

Turning a kiddie pool into a sandbox was cheaper than buying one of those green turtle sandboxes in the toy departent.  It was worked out perfectly and we love it. 

*On a side note it is easy to clean.  We went on vacation a couple of years ago and forgot to put the cover on it.  (tutorial on making the waterproof cover to come)  The neighborhood cats had a blast with it as a litter box.  It was super easy for my husband to dump the sand and for me to clean and disinfect it with soap and bleach.  (and yes, we put brand new sand in it:)

February 16, 2012

SNOW DAY=clean up tips

The other day we had our first snow day of the season!  It was the first time my daughter got to really play in the snow and it was one of those perfect days with my kids I will forever treasure.  We had a blast!
After fun in the snow, the last thing you want to do is have the big cleanup from coming in and tracking the snow everywhere, having damp snow pants gathering on the floor and dripping coats.  So, here are a couple of tips I could not do without when it comes to snow day clean up.


I love this boot 'rest' that I got at Menards last year for about $8.  I keep it by the door so that as soon as we come inside we take our boots off and put them on the 'boot rest'.  I always add a rag towel to the bottom of the rest to help absorb the extra melting snow so that I don't have the boots sitting in a puddle of water by the end of the day. 

I've seen some people do similar things with putting a cookie cooling rack on top of a cookie sheet pan and it seems to work just as well.


For all of the miscellaneous gloves, hats, scarves, neck warmers, etc, here is my go to trick for drying them and keeping all the melting snow off of my floor.

I take the spare pants hangers from my kids closets and use them to hang up the gloves and hats and everything else. 
Luckily, I have been blessed with a nice wash sink in my laundry room and have installed shelving above it so this works out great. 
I used to hang the gloves from the pants hangers and then hang them on my washroom doorknobs with a hand towel on the floor under them to catch the melting snow.  But the kids pant hangers is the genius trick that works wonders!
Hope you can use these tips to enjoy your snow days and not dread the clean up.
Happy snow day everyone!

February 14, 2012

Valentines Day Foods for Kids

Last year I made a Valentines day themed meal for breakfast, lunch, and dinner.  I think I had as much fun making them for the kiddos as they had eating them. 

On the menu:
Breakfast:  Heart shaped pancakes (I used a heart cookie cutter to execute the perfect shape out of a regular pancake)  and strawberries with whipped cream (not pictured)

Lunch:  Heart shaped grilled cheese & tomato soup

Dinner:  Heart Pizza

(All served on Valentines place mats I made out of cardstock and clear page protectors.)

I'm still thinking of things to do for this year Valentines Day to make it special for the kids.  I picked up a few goodies at Walmart.  Now, it's just planning the menu. 
What will you be doing to make this day of celebrating love for one another special?

February 11, 2012

Household Containers for Art Supplies

Don't throw out those egg cartons!  I've got a couple of household containers I love to reuse.  It's handy, cheap, 'green', and I've almost always got them in the house.


These are THE BEST paint pallets for kids. I just cut the cardboard egg cartons into thirds, distribute the paint, and the kids go at it.  Love this!  I used to save the plastic icing containers that came with the Grands Cinnamon Buns but those just get tossed around everywhere in my craft bins, so I like these more.  Plus, when the kids are done, I just toss them in the trash.  How's that for easy clean up?


I also use the Swiffer alot and the containers that hold the wet swiffer refills are awesome for storage.  I rinse and dry them out and then store art supplies, first aid items for the car, Christmas ornaments in the extra large wet swiffer refill containers, etc.  The possibilities are endless!

February 08, 2012

Morning Comfort Food

Sometimes it's the little things...
An oldie but a goody made an appearance in my kitchen a few weeks ago.  I had gotten a great sale (from my own extreme couponing) and had a load of canned Pillsbury biscuits.  What to do?  Make us some monkey bread on a cold winter morning.

February 04, 2012

Kids Artwork Note Cards

What's a  mom to do with all of her kids artwork that piles up on the refrigerator, keepsake drawer, crafts table, etc?

Turn them into note cards!
I used the kids watercolors the kids did during this activity.

I took white cardstock and cut it to fit into a standard mailing envelope.  (I seem to always run out of cute sized envelopes and then have these great cards but only standard sized enveloped that they don't fit into.  So, I thought I would save myself some trouble and make the homemade cards to fit the standard envelopes).  I also took my decorative edge scrapbooking scissors and cut the kids art to fit the cardstock.

I used my Cricut, I got for Christmas, and cut out some sayings to place on top of the kids art.

With scrapbooking glue, I glued the cut out art onto the cardstock and then placed the Cricut sayings onto the art.

Viola!  Note cards any Grandparent or friend would love to receive...And, it all was created with things I already had around this house.  Love that!

February 01, 2012

Mother of Inventions

(you can't see it well, but my son has a huge smile on his face)
So, my hubby went to a Kansas City Chiefs game and it was freezing outside.  What to do with 2 kiddos with severe cabin fever?  Mix it up a little bit.
I found 2 pieces of poster board and was wondering what I could do with them to keep the kids entertained...giant painting canvases, pirate scopes, and then it hit me! 
Race Car Tunnels!
With a little bit of packaging tape, the right slope, all the cars in the house that would fit through the rolled up poster board, and baskets to catch the winners-here's what we came up with.  It ain't pretty, but you are welcome to use the idea when you are desperate for TV free entertainment for your little ones.  It's simple but the kids loved it!

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